Israel: Mobilization in Fear of Losing Legitimacy

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

The biblical story of David and Goliath is being re-enacted in Palestine, but this time it is between the tiny Palestinian BDS “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement and the ‘Goliath’ power of Israel, or the Zionist state. BDS  has managed to unify all the Palestinian civil organizations  declaring “a civilized resistance” against the colonial /apartheid Israeli occupation by calling on the civilized world to enact “boycott, divestment and sanctions ” against Israel till it ends its occupation and fulfills all UN resolutions including the Right of Return.

A salient recent victory of the BDS was the resolution adopted by the British Student Union that called for the boycott of Israel and set the date of November 29th of every year to be “a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.” A similar boycott was also threatened by the French Orange Telecoms Group. In fact, the Group took such a decision but, under huge pressures, it backed out on the decision to boycott Israel.

Faced by the increasing threats of boycotts from international firms and businesses, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) appointed a special committee to combat BDS accusing it of “seeking the destruction of Israel.” Moderate liberal and progressive Israelis opposing the agenda of the religious and nationalist right and extreme right wings ruling Israel now came to the defense of BDS by declaring that “the real purpose of BDS is to end the occupation.” Journalist Nachman Shai of the Zionist Coalition commenting on the panic gripping the Israeli government said: “Let us take a moment and think to find a way to get Israel out from the deep hole it fell into.”

In a further bid, the Israeli government has been working to mobilize world-wide supporters with deep pockets to set up a fund to combat the BDS campaigns around the world. The billionaire gambling casinos’ owner Sheldon Edilson and the real estate billionaire Adam Milstein have joined hands with other Jewish-and non-Jewish Zionist billionaires and are now working on a conference to set up a fund of $150 million for the task of combating BDS. (Such plans, on the other hand, make us hope for a similar Arab mobilization in support of the BDS!)

BDS has been joined by a very important Israeli movement called “Breaking the Silence” which consists of ‘veteran combatants’ who served in Israel’s armed forces and have taken the task upon themselves as eyewitnesses exposing to the world the brutality of the Israeli military occupation. Along the same line, Leanne Gale is also an American Jewish anti-occupation activist in Washington DC. Her father is a much respected rabbi heading the Hebrew Tabernacle reform congregation in New York. Reform Jews are the Jews who discarded the racist Talmud from their religious services.  Gale wrote on the website that she used to tell all that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is the most moral army in the world, but that after Gaza she experienced a change of mind. She said “As American Jews, we cannot allow Jewish tradition and identity to be co-opted by the corruption power of occupation. It is time to stop clothing our children in shame and Israeli defense forces t-shirts, and begin nourishing some pride in Judaism that does not oppress. Let us honor the dignity of Palestinian lives.”

While the BDS campaigns continue to draw more reactions in Israel, Ravit Hecht wrote in Haaretz that “Israel’s problem is not the BDS, it is the occupation”. One can object to boycott, he went on to say, but  “ sanctimonious wailing and automatic posing as victims coated with the memory of the Holocaust won’t hide the fact that Israel is ruling over an entire other nation.” Losing credibility is always followed by the loss of legitimacy. President Obama has declared the gradual loss of Israel’s credibility saying that “already the international community does not believe that Israel is serious about the two-state solution. The danger here is that Israel as a whole loses credibility.”

The biggest loss of credibility which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have faced was delivered by the highest level of the Israeli military forces. On Thursday June 4th, 2015 Reuters reported that the Israeli military “welcome the expected international deal which would curb Iran’s nuclear program”. An Israeli military source authenticated by Reuters, confirmed that this position reflected thinking at the very highest level of the armed forces of Israel.”

The questions that now cross our minds are: a) what   happened to Netanyahu’s opposition to “Obama’s deal with Iran”, has he and his government lost their credibility? And b):  why is the Israeli military endorsing a deal that has not been signed yet and is being extremely opposed by the Israeli government?

The current Israeli right-wing agenda is the one that is stripping Israel of its legitimacy before the entire world to see. Many keen political observers predict that Israel will have new elections before this year is over. When the military stands in a position politically in contradiction with the policy makers, this shall be viewed as kind of ‘a coup d’état’. This is what happened in Israel on June 4th, 2015.